Sounds from South Africa: Antjie Krog reads to the community

Sasha Weilbaker, Senior Writer

One of South Africa’s most critically lauded and politically engaged poets, Antjie Krog, visited campus to read excerpts from her book, “Lady Anne: A Chronicle in Verse,” in Bucknell Hall on Sept. 19. The event was followed by a lecture on social justice in the Gallery Theater on Sept. 20.

Krog was brought to the campus by the University Press director, Greg Clingham; her visit was also sponsored by the Stadler Center for Poetry, the Humanities Center, the Office of Global and Off Campus Education, and the University Lectureship Committee. Clingham first met Krog in 2015 to discuss her book, “Lady Anne.” The book was originally written in Afrikaans and published in 1989, but Clingham encouraged her to work with the University Press to translate and publish it into English. Over a cup of coffee with Clingham, Krog agreed to do so. “Lady Anne” was was translated into English and published through the University Press earlier this year.

“Her visit to campus at our invitation has given students a chance to hear one of the great modern writers and performers, and gave her an opportunity to read from that new book as well as speak about her experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the 1990s, and about the need for both social justice and forgiveness in a civil society,” Clingham said.

In addition to “Lady Anne,” Krog has written “Country in My Skull,” published in 1998, “A Change of Tongue,” published in 2003, and “Begging to Be Black,” published in 2009. Since 2004, Krog has been working as a professor at University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Krog’s narrative in verse drew me in from the  first hushed words of Lady Anne’s letters to the enveloping tones of the poetry in its original Afrikaans. I was moved and swept up by Krog’s reading, into a different time and place, with a heroine whose sorrows resonate with our spirits today,” said Sasha Carpenter ’19.

The Stadler Center for Poetry Director Katie Hays described Krog as “one of South Africa’s most courageous writers.”

“Her reading was terrific. I appreciated hearing the poems she chose from the book and also hearing one of them in the original Afrikaans,” Hays said.

“She was well-versed in African history and gave great perspective on what it’s like to live and learn in a post-Apartheid South Africa. Her work speaks to the experiences she’s had with racial inequality and injustice,” said Dante Fresse ’18.

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